What is the National Constitution Center?
Our constitution is the backbone of our society yet many individuals may not know much about it except parts which affect them as individuals such as the right to bear arms, the right to free speech and freedom of the press to name a few. All citizens should be aware of the contents of the Constitution and what each element represents in terms of our rights as citizens. Today and in years past there have been lawsuits brought that involve interpretation of the Constitution which our court system must decide. This article is about an organization which is dedicated to increasing public understanding of and appreciation for the Constitution. This involves not only its history but its contemporary relevance.
The National Constitution Center is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization dedicated to bring about better understanding of the details of the Constitution as it is written. It is great this organization exists and that it is a non-partisan and a non-profit organization. The center was by the Constitution Act of 1988. The center is both a museum and an engine of civic and constitutional education for children and adults. It is the first-ever museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution. The location is just two blocks from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The size of the center/museum totals 160,000 square feet with 75,785 square feet dedicated to the exhibit part of the center. The many exhibits of the center include the following:
The Story of We the People which is a permanent exhibit. This exhibit includes the Kimmel Theater featuring Freedom Rising combining a multimedia production film, a live actor and video projection on a 360 degree screen. It also consists of the American Experience which includes a history of the Constitution along with more than 100 interactive and multimedia exhibits for all ages. Having a location dedicated to the history of the Constitution provides is an important asset and resource. Another element of included in the story of we the people is life size bronze statutes of the 39 signers of the Constitution. This part of the story of we the people can be found in the Signers’ Hall.
Another part of the museum which opened in June of 2005 is the Freedom Exhibit Gallery. This part of the center/museum has changing exhibits, including the center’s own Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War. Other exhibits in this part of the center are noted below:
The Ben Franklin 300th anniversary exhibit
Benjamin Franklin: In search of a better world
Sports breaking records
Breaking barriers from the Smithsonian Institution
9/11: A nation Remembers
Eyewitness: American originals from the National Archives
First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image from the Smithsonian Institution
Baseball As America from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, Ny
The education resources of the center can be found in the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach. It offers educational programming, a study center which develops and distributes tools such as lesson plans and lectures, a visiting Scholars program and several resources from the Center’s website. One resource of information can be found through the center’s blog titled Constitution Daily. It is provides smart conversation about the Constitution. It is an experimental blog at this point in time but it offers daily analysis on current events through the lens of the Constitution.
One of the honors of the National Constitution Center is the accreditation from the American Association of Museums of which less than 5% of the museums in the United States achieve. The accreditation is the primary vehicle for quality assurance, self-regulation, and public accountability which reflects a museum’s commitment to excellence at all levels. The accreditation ensures a museum is not only exemplary steward of public dollars, but the artifacts in their collection. The recognition of this level is representative of a museum for preserving our heritage for future generations.
This organization is an important resource for which all Americans need to be aware of for the information it provides surrounding the Constitution. One interesting fact about the center is it awards the Liberty Medal since 2006. The Liberty Medal is presented to men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over. It is also involved with the Peter Jennings project for Journalists and the Constitution. It was created to help both professional and student journalists understand constitutional issues more deeply. It could not be a more fitting location for such activity in conjunction with the mission of the center.